The versatility and flexibility of Dolfin make it an ideal choice of wealth manager for anyone from individual HNWs and families to institutions, write Alec Marsh and Arun Kakar
There is a refreshing premise to Dolfin, the Mayfair-based wealth management boutique with £4 billion in client assets under management and control. Launched in 2013, it describes itself not just as a wealth manager, but as a wealth management platform.
This differentiation is a formidable part of the firm’s USP. Dolfin has built an infrastructure that serves different client types, from families and HNWs to institutional customers, many of whom compete in the fund-management space.
The firm prides itself on being very proactively responsive to client demands by understanding their individual circumstances. This is the way it does this is by offering everything from very high-quality execution to discretionary and general investment management services.
This includes account opening, trading, and ‘getting far better price discovery’, wealth management, as well as ‘having access to third-party offerings where Dolfin helps to arrange lending mortgages, for example’, says head of business development Georgios Ercan.
Clients see the firm as a ‘one-stop-shop’, he says, where clients are connected not just to a broad range of services but also to a network of trusted advisers, including lawyers, accountants and asset managers.
‘We are able to reach out to various providers to deliver solutions for clients, and that is why we are a solutions/ service-driven platform rather than a product platform,’ Ercan explains.
This range of services extends to onshore and offshore custody. The firm operates independent custody and depository services from its office in Malta, which it opened in 2018. It’s recently expanded its offering to open a ‘new path’ for its clients to book assets in Europe within its own custody set-up. It’s a move that makes particular sense to its international clientele in a post-Brexit, post-MiFID II environment, explains Ercan.
The move has been ‘well-received’ by clients who value having the options of onshore or offshore booking centres. ‘We’re very focused on offering choice and flexibility to all our clients,’ says Ercan. ‘Our Malta office does just that: acting as an alternative to London custody for private clients but also as an asset servicing hub for small to medium-sized funds.’
Dolfin’s range of investment services is united by a focus on long-term, absolute returns, says head of investment management Simon Black. ‘We wanted to approach the investing landscape from the same perspective and the same side of the table,’ he says. ‘Our focus is on trying to understand what their family is wanting to do with their wealth, what their exposure is and what their understanding is.’
The firm entered 2020 with an ‘incredibly low’ allocation in equities, he adds. It didn’t believe from a valuation perspective of ‘having equities for the sake of them’. It pulled 95 per cent exposure out of its clients’ portfolios because its aim is to protect clients, not ‘chase markets higher’ on their behalf.
Portfolios are kept straightforward – no third-party managers, hedge funds or structured products – so clients can understand the thematic concepts clearly. One such theme the firm has been alive to is impact investing, as its younger clients begin to look at more ‘emotive’ ways of investing.
‘The concept of impact investment ties in quite neatly with some of the venture capital investing that we’ve been doing,’ says Black. The firm also launched its private investment club towards the end of last year. Clients are able to co-invest alongside others in a centralised place where Dolfin will assemble the deals as the adviser.
‘The idea is that we can represent a more powerful investment group by having multiple underlying private clients investing beside each other,’ elucidates Black. Also last year, Dolfin launched its Women in Wealth series for female clients, featuring speakers discussing a range of education and development perspectives.
It’s up to clients to decide how they want to interact with the firm, Black says: ‘There are firms out there that do one aspect really well but don’t want to do any of the other components. What we’re trying to do is say, “We can give you really good investment performance in a portfolio you can understand, at the same price as you would get anywhere else, and we can to do some really interesting co-investments with other clients.”’
For more information about Dolfin, click here
Photography by David Harrison. From left: Dolfin head of business development Georgios Ercan and head of investment management Simon Black